LIVE: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast – CAF AFCON 2023 final

SportsLIVE: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast – CAF AFCON 2023 final
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The Elephants face the Teranga Lions after avoiding an early grave

As close as Ivory Coast came to elimination in the group stage, the knock outs have been a steady rise to redemption.

Their first, and biggest test so far, in the eliminators was against the defending champions, Senegal.

Habib Diallo gave the Teranga Lions the lead after four minutes but Franck Kessie levelled from the spot with four minutes to play.

With the game still tied at 1-1 after extra time, the Elephants marched past the Lions in the penalty shoot out.

What has made this such a thrilling AFCON

Despite the final pitting two footballing giants against each other, this has been an AFCON of upsets and underdogs.

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Namibia beating Tunisia was the shock of the tournament and helped to see the Southern Africans progress from their groups while the North Africans, AFCON winners in 2004, would finish bottom of their group.

Ghana also paid a heavy price for an opening defeat by Cape Verde, and they were perhaps the biggest shock to fall at the first hurdle.

The Blue Sharks topped their group ahead of Egypt, and the group winners were one of the big stories across the start of the tournament, with the likes of Equatorial Guinea and Angola claiming pole position ahead of more illustrious African footballing heritages.

The Pharaohs, who lost Mohamed Salah to injury in their second match, paid a heavy price for failing to finish first in their group as they were pitted against DR Congo in the round of 16, where they were eliminated by an 8-7 penalty shootout defeat.

Morocco, the World Cup history makers and tournament favourites, swept through their group, but it did them little good as the Atlas Lions also fell in the first knockout round to unfancied South Africa.

Incredibly, all five Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers from the continent were eliminated before the quarterfinal stage, with Cameroon falling to Nigeria and Senegal’s defeat by Ivory Coast at that stage also considered a shock.

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